If you are travelling to Ellerton, Greens or St Jude’s and you hop into ZR463 you will notice something abnormal for PSV operators. This vehicle is an all-female operated one.
Morivia Sam Gittens has been driving the route for over a year and Shanika Cave, the conductor, has been operating PSVs for the past 18 years. Gittens told Barbados TODAY that she started her career as a conductor in the Lower Greene Terminal and after 20 years she returned to the Constitution River Terminal where she now drives a PSV vehicle.
“I did not have any problems with the guys when I first came out. There would be the occasional ones who do not appreciate seeing females as ZR drivers and I would encounter them every once in a while. The guys do not give me any problems in that regard,” she said.
Gittens said St George people are selective about who they drive with and there were many who told her to ‘Go Long’ once they realized the driver was female.
“But over time, because I have been on this route for over a year now, they have become more comfortable with me and my driving. So I do not have a problem. Persons would call me, “Sam, you done work already?”, “What part you are?”, “I am going to wait for you in the van stand,” she said.
Gittens, commonly referred to as Sam, said when she entered the transportation sector she was first working on the Silver Sands and airport route and there are still people who ask her to go back to that route.
The PSV driver said people are still shocked when they approach her vehicle and realize that both the driver and conductor are female.
“A day a guy got in my van and only when I started to speak, he realized I was a woman. A lot of women are surprised when they see females starting to enter this sector because it is heavily male-dominated in terms of driving. But I am glad to see more women are entering it as it is making the men pull up their socks and drive better,” she said.
Cave said she enjoys working with a female driver as they empower each other.
“It is a bit different because I worked with males. As she said before, I have worked Silver Hill on a more male dominated route and worked with a male driver and it was cool and fun. There would be one or two idiots but working with her is like a girl-power sort of thing,” she said.
Cave noted that many female passengers are pleased to get into a female operated PSV vehicle and some of them have referred to it as ‘girl power’.
“A lot of persons, both male and female, are very glad to see two females working together,” she said.
Cave added she would like to see more porta-potties along the route, especially for females.
“Around the routes as we have the van stand, it is Chefette or something like that to use the bathroom, unless you [make friends] with someone on the route [where] you can use their bathroom. That is basically what you have in regards to that. I do not think there is a lot of consideration for us as females. There are some positives, but there are some negatives,” she shared.
Gittens said she would love to have porta-potties at the end of the route, especially as there have been many instances where she had to come off her route to find bathroom facilities.
“If you can put them at the turnaround point, it would be great. Take for instance, this morning I left Bridgetown, and I was going up and halfway on the route I wanted to [urinate]. So rather than complete my route, I had to turn around and come back to town to use the bathroom in town. It was at a time that I could not use the bathroom at Chefette because it was [closed],” she said.
Gittens said having the porta-potties installed would help curb unseemly urinating on the road. She believes if the system at the Constitution River Terminal is run on intervals it could help to deter this practice. (LG)